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You Treat Me Like A Stranger and That Feels So Rough: Oilers 5, Blackhawks 2

Well, a loss was bound to happen eventually — the Blackhawks just didn’t have to look so horrible during it.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Blackhawks win streak was snapped on Saturday night in a 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers after a disastrous first period doomed them early. It’s not a surprise that the Blackhawks lost to a better team, but the manner in which they lost was distressing.

The first period was the most mistake-riddled period of hockey for the Blackhawks in the Derek King era, and the Oilers took full advantage by scoring four almost effortless goals.

Connor McDavid opened the scoring. Evan Bouchard’s point shot hit Zach Hyman and deflected to a wide open McDavid in-close to the side of the net for an easy tap-in goal.

Next, Tyson Barrie cashed in on the power play to make it 2-0. Leon Draisaitl’s fake passes caused several Blackhawks’ players brains to malfunction so they over covered him, leaving Barrie wide open in the high slot for a quick one-timer.

Then, Kailer Yamamoto scored shorthanded to put the Oilers up 3-0. Seth Jones made an ill-advised, no-look drop pass in the Blackhawks own zone where Yamamoto picked the puck up easily for a quick wrister that beat Lankinen.

Ryan McLeod would add a fourth goal with less than two minutes left in the period. For some reason, the Blackhawks just let McLeod skate unopposed into the slot to receive Warren Foegle’s pass from the side of the net.

The Blackhawks got one back with 20 seconds left in the first period. Seth Jones’ point shot deflected off both Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat into the net behind Stuart Skinner — a fake ID name if I ever heard one.

The second period was a scoreless affair, so the Blackhawks entered the final 20 minutes still trailing 4-1.

The Blackhawks showed more life in the third period, but it wasn’t until almost the midway point that they were rewarded with DeBrincat’s second goal of the night. Philipp Kurashev got the primary assist after he jumped out of the penalty box.

Unfortunately, Draisaitl responded by getting the Oilers their second shorthanded goal of the night to regain their three-goal lead with 3:32 left in the game.

And that’s how the game would end as the Oilers defeat the Blackhawks 5-2 — not unexpected but disappointing nonetheless.

Notes

  • Since the coaching change, the Blackhawks have had four near-perfect first periods of low-event hockey when they gave up zero goals. That was not the case tonight, obviously. We haven’t seen opposing players wide open in any of the most recent games but every goal against in the first period was an Oiler by himself for the most part. So bad.
  • The mistakes were especially brutal considering the Blackhawks actually had the puck more often than the Oilers, as they controlled 58.54 percent of shot attempt share and 57.69 percent of the shots on goal at 5-on-5 in the first. The quality against wasn’t bad either — just eight scoring chances with four being high-danger — so it really was the defensive breakdowns and lack of puck management that cost the Blackhawks dearly.
  • The Jones brothers, in particular, had some big gaffes in the first period. Seth decided to pass backwards on the power play when the Oilers were still right there and Caleb was caught puck-watching so badly on goal No. 4 that he tripped while trying to catch up to his man (Foegle, who had the primary assist). There were a few others that didn’t result in goals again, so let’s just say they’ve both played better hockey.
  • There was one shift when the Blackhawks were pinned in their own zone for such a long time, the Oilers were able to rotate through all four lines without exiting the zone. The players on the ice and their shift total were: Murphy at 4:50, C. Jones at 4:50, Strome at 3:20, Khaira at 3:20, and Hardman at 3:15. Interestingly, the Blackhawks only allowed two shots on goal in that shift. Not great to be stuck like that, but it could have been worse.
  • I sound like a broken record at this point, but I’m ready for the Mike Hardman and Reese Johnson experiments to end. They both try hard every shift, but that doesn’t matter if they’re not particularly effective and they’re just not NHL ready at the moment. It feels like the coaches hope they’ll magically turn into Hagel but that’s just not going to happen. I’m sure they’re both nice guys, but it’s time for someone else to get an audition.
  • Speaking of Hagel, it’s great that he returned in the third period after it looked like he re-injured his shoulder in the second.
  • There were some players who stood out as bright spots. DeBrincat scored twice and is on pace for 53 goals. Kane looked dangerous a majority of the game. Murphy and McCabe were the only defenders to not make wildly dumb mistakes and led the defensemen in ice time at 5-on-5.
  • Not as bright but still decent were Strome and Kurashev. Strome had a decent offensive game: he led forward in shots per 60 at 5-on-5 and he contributed to two of Kane’s best attempts of the night, including the shot off the post in the third. While Kurashev took two penalties, he had a beautiful assist on DeBrincat’s second goal and was the only guy on his main line who could complete a zone exit or entry. Neither guy is going to save the team or anything, but they’re both limited in what they can contribute when anchored by the types of linemates they had tonight.
  • And if the Blackhawks coaches aren’t going to play Kurashev in the top 9, they need to send him to play top-line minutes in Rockford, hopefully with Reichel. Again, give another young player an audition if they think Kurashev is a fourth liner.
  • Ultimately the frustrating part is that, despite their record, the Oilers are a statistically mediocre team carried predominantly by two players (they contributed to 60 percent of the goals tonight) and they were missing their No. 1 defenseman. I’m not saying the Blackhawks should have won — the Oilers are still better than the Blackhawks, after all — but they should have at least been more competitive.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Leon Draisaitl (EDM) — 1 goal, 1 assist
  2. Connor McDavid (EDM) — 1 goal, 1 assist
  3. Alex Debrincat (CHI) — 2 goals

What’s next

The Blackhawks play again on Sunday night against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena for a 7 p.m. start.